OpinionWare Markets Software for HR Departments

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OpinionWare, Chicago, launched its largest integrated marketing effort in mid-September in an effort to promote the availability of its newest software application, called CompanyPulse.

The software company has estimated that the direct mail component, which got under way late last month, has generated an estimated 5 percent to 6 percent response rate so far.

CompanyPulse allows a human resources department to interact with its work force in a real-time environment and vice versa.

The target audience for the campaign -- which cost nearly $90,000 and was intended not only to sell the product, but also to build awareness and credibility within the marketplace -- included human resources consulting firms as well as the heads of human resources departments, presidents, vice presidents, directors, assistant directors and managers at companies with 1,000 or more employees.

OpinionWare began running print ads in September in two trade publications, HR Magazine and Workforce, as well as an online ad on SHRM Online. The ads will continue through early November. The company used the same imagery, text and colors for the print and online ads as well as for the direct mail piece.

"We knew that most people were going to see all three pieces of the campaign," said Cynthia Nottoli, director of marketing at OpinionWare. "Because of that, we wanted to be consistent so they would recognize the direct mail piece when it finally got to their desk. We felt there would be more interest in opening the piece if they saw that all three ads were similar."

The ads' text and visuals take a lighthearted approach by stating that the best way to communicate with "the mainland" is with a message in a bottle, and that the best way to communicate with a crowd is through a bullhorn. The last image is of a computer screen with the CompanyPulse logo on it, declaring that the software is the best way for a company to communicate with employees.

The text following those images pushes the theme that CompanyPulse can help a company improve employee retention through dialogue and collaboration. OpinionWare refrained from including considerable text about the software.

"We wanted them to come up with ideas of how they would best use it instead of telling them how they should use it," Nottoli said. "We wanted to spark their interest and get them to talk to us. We are trying to show them that we can help them solve a problem they may be having, not that we are pushing a product on them."

The ads are designed to get prospects to either call a toll-free number for more information or go to www.OpinionWare.com/CompanyPulse, which takes visitors to a free demonstration of the application.

Traffic to the site has increased nearly 82 percent since the print and online ads began running, according to Jeffrey Schultz, vice president of marketing at OpinionWare.

During the second week of October, OpinionWare sent more than 8,200 direct mail pieces to a list it compiled from the membership database of SHRM Online.

The 6-inch-by-8-inch personalized mailer provided three options. Nottoli said most chose to visit the Web site, as opposed to calling the toll-free number or using the business reply card.

The number of BRCs returned, combined with the increase in traffic since the mail pieces went out, led the company to estimate the response rate at 5 percent to 6 percent, according to Schultz.

OpinionWare worked with Slack Barshinger & Partners, Chicago, to develop the campaign.

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